So you’ve gotten the impression that most memoirs are about trauma?
If you want to read something upbeat, you can’t miss A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel.
After the Prologue and a piece about the protagonist’s Baby Book as written by her mother, the first chapter from the voice of Zippy herself starts out this way:
Somehow my first wig and my first really excellent pair of slippers arrived simultaneously.
Now my hair, my actual human hair which grows out of my head, was slow in coming. I was bald until I was nearly three. My head was strangely crooked, and it happened that the little patches of wispy bird hair I did have grew only in the dents. Also my eyes were excessively large and decidedly close together. When my mother first saw me in the hospital she looked up with tears in her eyes and said to my father, “I’ll love her and protect her anyway.”
This book is absolutely delightful. Haven (Zippy) Kimmel’s life is described as both so typically middle class middle America and so hilariously funny, that you will be hooked from the first pages of Kimmel’s engaging voice. (Here’s a secret: I. love.this.book.)
So what did I learn from it? I learned that underneath the knee-slappingly funny self-deprecation and the obvious love of her town and her people, that there was still (lots of) dysfunction in Kimmel’s family. It is possible to write a funny book about your family, even if your family is, well, normal in its problems.
I can’t resist telling you one of the funny things in the book. Throughout, Zippy’s mother is portrayed as lying on the couch, reading, eating, watching TV. A permanent couch potato.
When Kimmel was on her book tour for the book, she was asked by so many people if her mother ever did get up off the couch, so she wrote a sequel called She Got Up Off the Couch.
Yes, she did get up, and the sequel explains what Zippy’s mother ended up doing with her life.